Фото: ВМРО-ДПМНЕ

Eleven protesters were detained and 47 police officers were injured, 11 of which have severe injuries and two serious injuries, in yesterday’s violent protests in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia.

The protest was organized by informal groups, but was supported by the main opposition parties from the Macedonian political block – VMRO-DPMNE and Levica. The participants oppose the European Union’s proposal for lifting the Bulgarian veto for North Macedonia and starting the EU accession negotiations. Yesterday’s protest was fourth in a row and there were calls for violence just hours before the protest started.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Oliver Spasovski today visited the two police officers with serious injuries, who are being treated at the Neurosurgery Clinic in Skopje, after which he pointed out that there is no place for violence in the Republic of North Macedonia and there is no justification for the violent acts.

He warned that attacking a police officer is a felony and such actions will not be tolerated.

“Any dialogue should be conducted in the institutions of the system, and the Macedonian police is the guardian of the security of those institutions, the state, and its citizens,” Minister Spasovski said, urging the citizens to avoid falling prey to provocations, the aim of which, as Spasovski said, is obviously dishonest and exclusively guided by motives for achieving political goals.

Minister Spasovski called the organizers of the protests and the citizens to demonstrate democratic capacity. He called the citizens to act reasonably, recalling the unfortunate events of the 27th of April 2017, when an organized crowd stormed the Parliament and attacked MPs.

“I call on everyone – common sense must win, the 27th of April should never happen again, yesterday’s violence should never happen again – all this is a serious blow to democracy,” Spasovski said, expressing gratitude to the citizens for their support for the Ministry of Interior, as well as to the media for reporting objectively.

Last night’s riots lasted three and a half hours and began in front of the Government building, then continued in front of the Foreign Ministry, and culminated at the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia (RNM).

“All injured police officers were given medical assistance, while those that were severely injured were transferred to the medical facilities for proper treatment of their injuries and medical care,” the Ministry of Internal Affairs informed.

Nazim Bushi,, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affair; Sasho Tasevski, the Director of the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and Arif Asani, the Deputy Director of PSB, accompanied Spasovski in the visit of the injured police officers.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs says that during the protest, no pyrotechnics or chemical means were used by the police to break up the crowd.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs is working on clearing the case and appeals to the organizers of the protests and to the citizens to show democratic capacity; the protests should be peaceful and democratic; the order, peace, and security must be preserved. Nothing will be achieved with violence towards those who maintain the order, towards the Macedonian police and the institution,“, the press release reads.

Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski also condemned the attacks on the police, stressing that although the protests are a democratic right, violence cannot be justified by anything. He strongly condemned the attack on the police that, as he said, was up to its task last night, professionally protecting the citizens and the state institutions.

“Violence and hate are not and cannot be the solution to any problem. I will tell the instigators of the protests – do not manipulate or abuse young people in order to satisfy your political appetites. Your scenario last night resulted in over 40 injured police officers and over a dozen arrests. The 27th of April will not happen again,” Prime Minister Kovacevski said.

The ruling SDSM party says that the citizens were witnesses of new incidents and violence in the protests organized by VMRO-DPMNE and their partner, the pro-Russian party Levica in front of the Parliament.

“The protest is a guaranteed right, but violence is a criminal act and all those involved must bear responsibility for this,” SDSM said in a statement.

Despite yesterday’s violent protests in Skopje, the organizers are announcing a new protest tonight in front of the Government building, then to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia. Minister Spasovski said that the Ministry of Interior expects fresh violence tonight.